Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The Effect of Trees on Crime in Portland, Oregon

Informally Refereed
Authors: Geoffrey H. Donovan, Jeffrey P. Prestemon
Year: 2012
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source: Environment and Behavior 44(1):3-30


The authors estimate the relationship between trees and three crime aggregates (all crime, violent crime, and property crime) and two individual crimes (burglary and vandalism) in Portland, Oregon. During the study period (2005-2007), 431 crimes were reported at the 2,813 single-family homes in our sample. In general, the authors find that trees in the public right of way are associated with lower crime rates. The relationship between crime and trees on a house’s lot is mixed. Smaller, view-obstructing trees are associated with increased crime, whereas larger trees are associated with reduced crime. The authors speculate that trees may reduce crime by signaling to potential criminals that a house is better cared for and, therefore, subject to more effective authority than a comparable house with fewer trees.


crime, trees, urban forestry, Portland, Oregon


Donovan, Geoffrey H.; Prestemon, Jeffrey P. 2012. The effects of trees on crime in Portland, Oregon. Environment and Behavior 44(1):3-30.